Debasement Anchors Your Eating Disorder: How this works


Courtisane au CaireIf you have an eating disorder, you often feel insecure and of little value. You are certain that the criticism you give yourself is an echo of the criticism you believe is aimed at you from others. No amount of reassurance will alter your position. Reassurance, you believe, comes from people who mean well, are trying to soothe you, don't understand the reality of your worthlessness or are trying to exploit you by making you believe you are better than you know you are.


So if I and others tell you that your self-criticism is a symptom of your eating disorder and that you are being severe and punishing to yourself, this position will not seem valid to you. In fact, this position may prove to you that I and others saying this are not to be relied upon because we are lying or wrong or stupidly oblivious to the reality of your genuine condition. You may think we are setting you up to exploit you.

If this is you and your experience with yourself and others, you are in the midst of a thorough debasement of yourself. This is not denial or self-sacrifice, although they seem related.

Base means the fundamental principle or underlying concept of your core identity, the center of your self organization. Your base is the center from which your thoughts, feelings, decisions, perceptions and activities flow.

Debasement means to cause your base to deteriorate, decrease in quality or character. The fundamentals of your core structure lose worth, value and dignity.

You don't decide to do this to yourself. It's an unconscious process. Most likely you are attempting to make sense out of your experience in the world. By this I mean that if you were treated badly by people or forces you believe are correct and benign, then you believed that you must deserve this treatment. Your sense of self worth balances itself with the treatment you received. If you are treated badly you believe that your worth is equal to the value you imagine you are given by the forces that hurt you.

When you debase yourself you accept ill treatment as your lot in life. You have no psychological place to stand to observe and evaluate realistically what you are doing or have done. The only place to stand is on your base, and that has deteriorated.

Your lack of value feels accurate, as if it's always been accurate. You accept it without question. Someone else is not debasing you. They accept the value you have placed on yourself and treat you accordingly, i.e. badly. You may suffer, but you accept poor treatment because you believe this appropriate for you.

The pain from this existence is overwhelming. But, since you can't stop it at its source, you engage in your eating disorder activities to decrease your suffering. You overeat or binge or starve to dull your feelings, accepting that dullness as relief. You also put on a false facade, acting as if you were superior than others deserving special treatment. But this facade can easily crumble when you are confronted because you don't have a solid base from which to meet your challengers.

You are also susceptible to abuse and exploitation .

Because you have debased yourself, you are certain that you must give all your time, energy, emotional capacity, worldly goods, etc. to barely receive less than adequate nourishment in your relationships, environment, work place, family, and on and on.

Because it is self debasement you have no criteria for comparison. You don't weigh and measure your worth (except with your body weight and proportions) because you are living the experience of being debased. You have no options because your awareness limits you. No one else can lift your self-debasement from you. And you don’t know it’s there.

Can you challenge these beliefs you have about yourself and entertain the possibility that you are worth more than you believe?

1.   Do you have more intelligence and creativity than your job requires?

2.   Do a list of negatives rise up in your mind when you contemplate making a positive change in your life?
e.g. you're too fat, too lazy, too stupid or worse, plagued with an unnamable bad thing that everyone sees, and you can't do anything about?

3.   Can you give yourself physical, emotional, intellectual nourishment even though you believe you don't deserve it? Can you give yourself the chance to grow beyond your debasement and let your genuine value emerge?

4.   Do you look for compliments and reassurance yet reject them?

5.   Do you have people in your life, or have you had them in the past, who express a positive perspective toward you which you reject? Can you rethink your position?

6.   Can you give yourself the gift of a more open mind and work on this issue with your psychotherapist?

The first step in recovery and building your life anew is awareness.  When you contemplate the issues I've described and see how they relate to your life you are opening your consciousness to a new awareness. 

Please be kind to yourself.  Sit with your awareness for a while. New paths will open to you.

*pix Courtisane au Caire, 1886 by Edmond Comte De Grimberghe (1865 -1920 )

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.


0 # Wow...this is kind of interesting, as I'shh 2012-08-06 16:06
Wow...this is kind of interesting, as I'm finding that I am having to dig deep just to bat off the voices (which are mine, but carry the attitude of my parents, mother especially) which say that saying what I want to say in response to this article, is far too conceited, and "up myself", and giving myself more credit than I actually deserve.

It's like it's necessary to acknowledge the level of debasement that is there, just to be able to talk about debasement.

But pushing past those demons, yes, I can see very clearly that my abilities are not acknowledged or reflected in my lifestyle - as I am pretty intelligent, articulate, have good social and communication skills... but I don't have a decent job/career, don't have much in the way of a social life etc. Given my abilities and talents, I'm very aware that I "should" be so much more, more "successful" than I am. It is the source of much heartache that who I appear to be on the outside doesn't reflect who I am on the inside or utilise any of my positive qualities, and I feel that my lack of self-worth, and my disallowing myself to value any of my positive attributes, is what is responsible for people looking down upon me... it is almost self-fulfilling, I have become the relatively worthless thing in other peoples' eyes, that I am in my own eyes, and what I am in my own eyes, is what my parents saw me as, and told me I was, and punished me for expressing anything that might indicate otherwise.

But all that said, I am aware of this, but I still struggle with how I can remedy this, and gain an adequate amount of self-worth, and credibility in light of how others see me.
0 # Try this for an experimental exercise.pinkjoanna 2012-08-06 17:27
Try this for an experimental exercise. Put yourself in an imaginary house of mirrors at a carnival fun house.

See yourself distorted into all kinds of absurd contortions because of the quality of the glass.

Do you believe that each reflection is an accurate description of you?

Good grief, if we want to make a fantasy horror show we could have the individual turn herself into such contortions so that quality mirrors reflect the distortion she creates. But if she knows she is creating the distortion herself, then we can play with what her agenda might be in this fantasy movie.

Neither of these scenarios connect with the authentic person of value you are. But awareness is not a cognitive experience. Awareness is not about soothing, compliments, positive descriptions by others, talking yourself into believing something, etc.

You need to protect and nourish the spark of light within you to reach enlightenment, Shh. Drop your brain thinking and do the HHH exercises - slowly and daily. See what happens over time.

You ask how you can "remedy this" as if it were a problem to solve. It's not a problem to solve. It's a journey to experience. It's your journey.
0 # certainly a lot to digest, but it totallmylifex2 2012-08-07 01:31
certainly a lot to digest, but it totally fits. I never thought of this before you wrote about it.
0 # Thanks Joanna...I guess when I say "remeshh 2012-08-07 02:00
Thanks Joanna...I guess when I say "remedy this" it's not the entire situation or the journey of discovery that I want to be free from, it's those ingrained beliefes and voices, that I feel I am constantly battling against...the voices that won't even allow me enough self worth to recognise that I have an ED, they jump in and say "you're just making excuses because you are fat and lazy and just looking for ways to blame others because you look a mess, throw that stupid HHH book in the bin, it doesn't apply to you, it's for people who really have problems, not lazy people like you"

And of course there is a part of me now, that can counter that argument, and knows it's not true, but it's not established enough that it overides the other stuff naturally...I feel like I have to keep thinking and fighting or I will just succumb to all the negative stuff.
0 # shh, if you are struggling this hard witmylifex2 2012-08-07 08:59
shh, if you are struggling this hard with food and body image, then there IS a problem and HHH can definitely be of use. I think that when people think about ED they automatically think about the traditional ED's such as bulimia and anorexia. From what I have read there are far more people who fit into a sub-clinical EDNOS category which is just as devastating emotionally and often physically. Binge eating disorder is also a clinical issue. Do you feel that HHH has helped you make progress? Then don't throw it in the bin lol.
0 # I am trying to understand this, and havemylifex2 2012-08-07 18:51
I am trying to understand this, and have had to read it several times. I think the biggest thing I take from this, as far as how it relates to me, is that, at my core, I do feel quite worthless. I think many people who know me would be shocked to know this. I spend an amazing amount of time faking a confident, happy demeanor. It is tiring. I am working through all of this, of course, but I guess I am just saying that I do identify with what you are saying.
0 # Yes, it's a struggle to understand thispinkjoanna 2012-08-08 18:18
Yes, it's a struggle to understand this when you are in it.

This is about knowing who you are with solid and unquestioning conviction and being wrong.

This is where trust and faith come in. This is where "trudging" comes in. This is where you do the HHH exercises without any thoughts about outcome.

Your thinking will be entangled with your incorrect but solid beliefs about your identity. This is something you need to grow out of. You heal your way out. You strengthen weak parts of yourself. You expand your awareness and develop the strength and competence to tolerate what comes into your awareness.

You cannot reach inside yourself to pull yourself out of this. You have to nurture your entire being so you develop. And that includes setting boundaries and honoring healthy proportions in everything - food, exercise, time with loved ones, time in developing yourself, work, play -- the lot.

And it's hard going because your defenses will rise up and tell you that you are not worth any of what genuinely cares for you.

So, you trust, have faith, feel bewildered, scared, mad....and you keep trudging!

Does this help?
0 # it does, Joanna. And I had posted on themylifex2 2012-08-08 19:43
it does, Joanna. And I had posted on the forum a bit ago, a little about my attempts at trudging by doing the HHH exercises. My therapist and I spoke about boundaries today, as a matter of fact. how I need to take better care of myself and put myself and my kids first. I spread myself so thin. I take care of, and listen to, people's problems all day...come home to difficulties with my child with autism and her sister's jealousy over the attention that child gets. the trust part is hard right now because everything seems so hopeless right now...feel like I have tried and tried and tried. However, here I am, trying again. I guess that is the best thing I can do. I also shared with my therapist today how mad I am, how angry I am at being in a place like this emotionally. Trudging is all I can do right now. I am glad that trudging is a good thing. I still have a little faith left in me that perhaps this time, things will be better. If I didn't have a little faith I would completely give up, which I have not done. Scared I will get to that point, but haven't gotten there yet. In fact, my boss called me tonight and asked if I needed tomorrow off, as I had left work early today in tears because I just couldn't focus. I decided that I will go to work. I feel that staying home will just give me more time to sit and think, and thinking is not always a good thing. It is nice to know that my supervisors are supportive and I have a great track record at my job, I have always been a very reliable, dependable and hard working employee. I discussed limit setting with my therapist today in regards to my patients. I tend to do too much, even doing things for them or their families after they are discharged in regards to continuing care. It only adds to my patient load to have a full roster, only to add discharged patients to this load. I genuinely feel for my patients, and I want to help them...but lately I have felt angry with them because I am spending all of my energy on helping them, and not enough on helping myself. I am trudging, though, and trying to figure out ways to get some respite. I am planning a little vacation next month with just my kids...hey! i just realized i am future planning...I haven't done a lot of that lately. that is progress for me today.

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